The 14th annual national survey of parents’ attitudes towards teenage substance abuse found that parents these days are more aware of the dangers of a prevalent trend in prescription drug abuse among teenagers. The survey was released by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America in cooperation with MetLife Foundation.
The national survey was composed of 1,004 respondents – parents whose children are in grades 4-12. It highlights remarkable progress in the constant increase of parental perception of the negative consequences of abuse of Rx drugs by teenagers. Prescription medication abuse is quite prevalent in this age group with almost 20 percent of teenagers admitting to having engaged in it at least once in their lifetime.
The PATS 2008 survey found that within a year, “the number of parents who mistakenly believe that abusing prescription medicines is ‘much safer’ than using illicit street drugs dropped by nearly half – from 19 percent in 2007 to just ten percent in 2008.” There was also progress reported with regard to parental beliefs about the addictive potential of prescription medication when they are misused. From 24 percent in 2007, the number decreased to 11 percent of parents believing that intentional abuse is not habit forming.
But while awareness has increased, this doesn’t necessarily translate to enhanced parental action in order to keep their children from developing the habit. The data shows an increase in the number of parents who have sat their children down to discuss the potential dangers of Rx abuse but the rate is too small to be significant. The data shows an increase to 72 percent in 2008 from 68 percent in 2007.
“One of the most important things for parents to realize is the immense influence they have in their children’s lives,” says Partnership President Steve Pasierb. “It’s encouraging to see that more parents are now aware of the very real health risks of abusing medications, but now parents must take the next step – having frequent, open conversations with their teens to protect them from this dangerous behavior.”
The results of the PATS 2008 survey also indicated an increase in the number of parents reporting that they have discussed the risks of abusing OTC cough medications by as much as 18 percent – from the 55 percent recorded in 2007, the number went up to 65 percent in 2008.
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